Cover complaint, shout-out to forgotten friends, 2030’s “globalist vision,” arguing pandemic ethics, readers catch up on back issues, Beck’s still best, and more.
It has been a unique, troubling, and dark spring and summer, with health concerns, family concerns, and missed vacations and planned family gatherings. Imagine my inspiration and relief when from my mailbox I retrieved the Gazette’s Sep|Oct 2020 issue with its cheery dark orange and black (with chains) cover.
I was inspired to 1) find the sports, 2) find the obits, and 3) find the trash basket.
David A. Norcross L’61, Alexandria, VA
Associate editor and sports columnist Dave Zeitlin C’03 responds: “Love hearing from fans of our sports articles!”—Ed.
Missed Stops on Memory Lane
Starting in the late ’60s—whether it was jamming on the Green, in back of Houston Hall, or in any dorm/apartment basement that would tolerate us—our rocking days at Penn truly paved the way for a bunch of us in the music biz with groups such as Wax, Baby Grand, and the Hooters. We enjoyed going down that Memory Lane with another Penn colleague Jonathan Takiff C’68 [“Rocking Around the Decades with Rob and Eric,” Sep|Oct 2020], and we have maintained many of those working musical relationships to this day, some 50 years later. Fortunately, some rockers don’t die before they get old!
However, there are a few more Penn alums who were unfortunately omitted in the article. So we’d also like to acknowledge, first and foremost, our longtime friend and Hooterized recording engineer John O. Senior C’77, along with his wife Nancy Kimmons CW’75, Bill McCutcheon C’76, Mike Page C’75, and Link Hansen C’72, who were there then and continue to be a part of our musical orbit now, in and out of the studio. And we apologize to any others we may have overlooked—a splendid time was certainly had by all.
Rob Hyman C’72, Bryn Mawr, PA
Eric Bazilian C’75, Stockhol
Technology Tyranny by the Global Elite
Your article “The Future Is Coming—Fast!” [Sep|Oct 2020] about Wharton professor Mauro Guillén and his new book 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything is a rather fine explication of the globalist vision of the future of America and her people. Guillén sees us and our nation as mere cogs in a coming homogenous global dystopia where the “Internet of Things” and its enabling ubiquitous sensors control all, including the will of the individual human being. Nothing will be owned … everything will be shared. This coming electronic control of every aspect of our lives, otherwise known as a technology tyranny, is to be perpetrated at the behest of a new globalist elite, the technology oligarchs, who are now just beginning to flex their muscles. These new age oligarchs, who are now routinely buying political leaders to do their bidding and protect them from the will of the people, shall use their information age, monopoly internet enterprises to increasingly deny American citizens their constitutional rights … particularly to free speech, association, press, and religion. Of course, futurists like Guillén don’t have concern for these assaults on our national political culture, let alone national sovereignty … just look at his position on unlimited immigration.
Just like any globalist worth his salt, Guillén declares that “climate change” shall be one of the main devices used to force people to change their behaviors in alignment with the vision of their new global rulers, who, of course, are only requiring them to behave as dictated for their own good. (Lockdowns and masks anyone?)
In Guillén’s brave new world of 2030, fear shall become the real currency of the realm … fear of terrible things that will happen to the people if they don’t comply with the wishes of their elite masters. Those elites who are most effective at creating and propagating this faux existential fear using pseudo-scientific theories like “climate change” as the ultimate cudgel shall obtain the most power, and for globalists, power is what it is all about … the human condition be damned.
Freedom has met its ultimate enemy and that enemy is technology. Guillén and his fellow globalists know this in spades and they also know that they are now in a position to finally use our advanced technologies to do what dictators, kings, and princes have tried unsuccessfully to do over the millennia: kill freedom for good.
Les Schaevitz W’74, Wayne, PA
Several years ago my wife and I had the good fortune to visit Easter Island and have Sergio Rapu, a native and the Island’s archaeologist and former governor as our private guide for two days. He imparted knowledge debunking many former beliefs about the Moai. The trees were not cut down to roll these statues. They had convex bottoms and were “walked” to their locations. There was no starvation or cannibalism, but a change in worshiping their ancestors (the statues).
The information in the article “The Future Is Coming—Fast!” has been proven wrong by several groups, new technology, and archaeological discoveries. False information in your article shows a lack of research and calls into question the quality of the article in general.
Jeffrey R. Hodes D’70, Monroe Township, NJ
Mauro Guillén talks about Rapa Nui (Easter Island) as an example of humanity’s extraordinary ability to adapt and innovate under challenging circumstances. The article mentions past claims of cannibalism and clear-cutting of forests only to refute them.—Ed.
Experts Advise, Policymakers Decide
President Gutmann’s assertion in “Science and Solidarity” [“From College Hall,” Sep|Oct 2020] that public health expertise, free from political considerations, “must guide our pandemic policies” is (for better or worse) inconsistent with democratic governance. Experts advise; policymakers decide. Ideally, political leaders will seek input from experts in a variety of disciplines, including public health and epidemiology, and then chart a course of action after weighing diverse perspectives and exercising informed judgment. Public policy is ultimately rooted in democratic accountability, not academic credentials. Perhaps this is what Winston Churchill meant when he said he wanted scientists “on tap, but not on top.”
Charles G. Kels L’03, San Antonio
Victim Without a Voice
I applaud “Science and Solidarity” for its vision of “pandemic ethics” bridging multiple disciplines to help us navigate through the present pandemic crisis. However, there is one victim without a voice that needs to be included in this conversation, and that is our environment.
As a physician practicing medicine now for over 15 years, I have come to fully appreciate that the integrity and health of the environment is a surrogate measure of our own health; our disregard for the environment adversely impacts our well-being. The latest testament relates to how habitat destruction invites zoonotic disease that can quickly escalate into a pandemic. As part of our short-term response to this COVID-19 pandemic, there has already been a tremendous and heartbreaking impact on our environment with our streets, beaches, and oceans inundated with COVID-19 waste such as plastic masks, gloves, hand-sanitizer bottles, and food packaging. Recent research shows that these microplastics can serve as medium for microbial pathogens, rendering plastics a potential new vector for disease. Could plastic pollution create our next world pandemic?
Additionally, the neglect to consider the environmental effects of our actions is intricately intertwined with institutionalized racism manifesting as pollution, contaminated water and food, lack of access to fresh food, etc. Henceforth, when there is a call to bring social justice into our medical and ethical discussions, we must not forget the entity that also bears a great deal of collateral damage.
Veda Maany C’95 CGS’03, Malvern, PA
The article “Science and Solidarity” struck me as rather typically slanted Monday morning quarterbacking.
There was no mention of China’s complicity and moral turpitude in not containing the virus. Also, no chastisement of World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom (who is not an MD, by the way) for the WHO parroting Chinese propaganda for at least a week that the virus was not contagious human-to-human and therefore there was no need to shut down travel. This caused many journalists and TV anchors, and experts including Dr. Fauci, to, early on, downplay the severity of the increasing global involvement.
There was no mention of President Donald Trump W’68’s bold and timely shutdown of travel from China by non-American citizens, plus instituting quarantines, despite uniformly contrary advice and counsel from “trustworthy experts,” with one non-scientist vilifying him as xenophobic. Later, when all other countries followed suit in closing off their countries, there was no comparable off-the-cuff adverse comment.
In addition, the column included no statement that the elderly or those with preexisting conditions comprised the particularly vulnerable in the recitation of “health equity” matters, and no mention that it is not a good idea to sign an edict that returns positively tested COVID-19 patients to nursing homes.
It would be nice to see a more even-handed op-ed from the president of the University of Pennsylvania.
Albert Vollmer D’56, Larchmont, NY
Social Justice Commitment
I continue to be delighted by the Penn administration’s commitment to social justice under the leadership of President Amy Gutmann. When I was an undergraduate in the late 1950s and very early ’60s being outspoken on these issues could have gotten one red-baited and, depending on where one worked, fired.
Eliot Kenin C’61, Martinez, CA
With regard to the article “Protect and Elect” on Pennsylvania secretary of state Kathy Boockvar [“Alumni Profiles,” Sep|Oct 2020]: making “every vote count” is not the same as “counting every vote.”
Because of contentious political times, Democrats’ desire to change voting processes and/or their historical/hysterical win-at-any-cost attitude, I remain untrusting of their desires to alter the last vestige of constitutional hope—free and trustworthy elections.
Dick Berkowitz W’54, Savannah, GA
Virtual Education Questions
I find the article “Back to (Virtual) School” [“Gazetteer,” Sep|Oct 2020] somewhat amusing. I understand the University’s desire to keep students safe, but some of the requirements are a bit naive. Do you really think that the students are “going to refrain from organizing, hosting, or attending events, parties, or other social gatherings”?
The reduction in tuition of 3.9 percent and of the general fee by 10 percent is not exactly generous.
Will you please explain, for example, how chemistry or biology or other scientific laboratory experiments are going to be done online? How will you be sure that a student enrolled in a course is actually the person taking a test, and there is not someone sitting next to them helping with answers or having previously prepared written material on their behalf?
The idea of having almost no physical campus, housing, or services, etc., carried to the nth degree would allow the University to sell virtually all its land and buildings, reduce support staff, and use the money received and saved to fund socially beneficial virtual education for a large mass of students who could not otherwise afford a college education at an Ivy League school.
Howard Cunningham C’64 Gr’69, Bristol, PA
Get Past Presentism
As a decorated Vietnam vet, history major in college, and Wharton MBA, I am deeply offended by the wave of presentism that is being promoted by the “cancel culture.” One cannot judge groups or individuals who went before us by today’s standards. Nor can we just recreate history to favor today’s often narrow interpretation of it.
When I see hundreds of people kneeling in Franklin Field holding BLM signs [“Gazetteer,” Jul|Aug 2020], and read that a statue that has stood in the quad for some 100 years is being removed to salve the feelings of a few [“Gazetteer,” Sep|Oct 2020], I am ashamed of my alma mater. What started with the tearing down of confederate statues has so encouraged the “cancel culture” that more than 150 monument buildings and parks in DC—including the Washington and Jefferson Memorials—have now been recommended for name changes, contextualization, or removal because the historic figure they are named for is either considered a racist (by some) or doesn’t reflect the values of DC residents. When the New York Times posits that our nation started in 1619 with the arrival of the first captives to the Jamestown Colony, rather than the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, it becomes obvious that some are just trying to denigrate our nation and rewrite our past.
Should Japan rise to worldwide dominance in the next hundred years, will they claim that the US started WWII? Probably. Will Germans deny the existence of concentration camps and the murder of millions of Jews? Some already do. It is said that the victors write the history of any event and that is largely true. However, the facts should always be viewed through a historical lens, not a present day one.
The point here is that the “cancel culture” cannot be allowed to decide what our history has been, or what our values should be today. They cannot be allowed to force their viewpoints on our society … or in our schools!
Howard Sherman WG’73, Vero Beach, FL
Recognize Veterans, Recent and Past
Regardless of whether the Sep|Oct 2020 issue triggers yet another onslaught of letters about whether the Gazette has a leftist bias, I suggest you devote a story to the LPS Veterans and TRIO Veterans Upward Bound programs at Penn, both of which reflect very well on Penn (and would benefit from donations by Penn alumni).
Regarding veterans, I was disappointed that, to my recollection, the Gazette did not observe either the recent 100th anniversary of the end of World War I or the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II by recounting those wars’ impact on the many Penn students and faculty who served.
The Gazette has rightly celebrated Penn alumni who are fighting against the horrors of COVID-19 (although Penn nurses were conspicuously absent from the memorable article, “Penn and the Pandemic” [Jul|Aug 2020]); those who fought against the horrors of Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini deserve remembrance, too.
David Machlowitz C’74, Westfield, NJ
Remembering Renée Fox
It was so good to see “Mind Traveler,” the short article about Renée Fox [“Gazetteer,” May|Jun 2020]. If we are lucky in our college lives, we all have a professor we admire and strive to take every class they offer. Dr. Fox was that professor for me. As a shy, small-town girl from a high school that didn’t even offer AP credits to a student at a major Ivy League university I was often intimidated in class. Not in Dr. Fox’s class. She included all, welcomed all views, and mentored everyone.
Part of my story includes losing my younger brother to cancer when I was 15 years old and he was 10. I recently found a paper I wrote for one of her sociology 500-level courses. It was typed on a typewriter in December of 1983. It was the story of how the loss of a child to cancer impacted our family. This was a story I had not had the opportunity to process let alone to put on paper. I not only kept this paper (and found dozens of copies my parents made and apparently shared with others), but I found the typed note from Dr. Fox in response.
To give you a sense of the thought and care she gave to all students, here is an excerpt from that letter—it still brings tears to my eyes almost 40 years later: “Your paper is a radiant one … Although you sat through Sociology 583 relatively silently … I have felt your presence very strongly all semester, and it has meant a great deal to me—in the language of silence. I have not put a mark on your paper. That would be irreverent.”
While at the time I was considering work as a medical social worker in pediatric oncology and my career path led me elsewhere, Dr. Fox’s ability to mentor, support, and raise up a shy country kid who struggled thinking she wouldn’t belong at any Ivy League school has led me to leadership positions in student affairs in higher education.
Thank you, Dr. Fox, for the way in which your support made a difference to many but especially to this kid, as I gained the strength to tell a very personal story to a favorite professor. By the way, I ended up submitting this paper to a writing contest on campus and winning an honorable mention! My proudest Penn moment.
Doreen Hettich-Atkins C’85 Gr’03, Cortland, NY
Renée Fox died on September 23, 2020. An obituary will appear in our next issue.—Ed.
Stop With the !*&%$#*! Ageism
Catching up on my reading, I finally got around to the May|Jun 2019 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette. I usually read the magazine from cover-to-cover, so it takes a while. I was enjoying the article “Off-Off-Off Broadway” by Trey Popp, when I came across the sentence, “Grandma is already quivering at the fire exit—and we haven’t even gotten to the 152 f-bombs in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.”
And there it was, yet another example that ageism is indeed “the last acceptable prejudice,” with a little misogyny thrown in. That it’s so acceptable and prevalent doesn’t make it any less disturbing, nor does the fact that the author is none other than a senior editor at the Gazette. Why do you do this? I just don’t get it. Would your “grandma” be “quivering at the fire exit” viewing the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Streetcar Named Desire, a major box office hit even 60 years ago? Of course not. You’re perpetuating a harmful stereotype and marginalizing people based on their age.
Shame on you. Please do better.
Marianne Bessey WEv’89, Lansdowne, PA
Since I am in the “highly vulnerable” category, I have spent many months in shelter at home to avoid the COVID-19 virus. On one particular exciting afternoon, I approached a stack of unread magazines to get ready to toss them.
I happened on a copy of the May|Jun 2018 Pennsylvania Gazette and began to flip through its pages. I was attracted to an article titled “When William James Got Hungry,” by Martin E. P. Seligman Gr’67. I read on.
There was a description of Behaviorism and the purely measurable phenomenon, and how that school of thought dominated psychology in the first half of the 1900s. Seligman says that “Penn’s department had gotten sleepier and sleepier, and by 1955 it was snoring audibly.”
This brought me back to my sophomore year at the College for Women, and I remembered being interested in psychology and taking a course in Introduction to Psychology. I remember being amazed that the entire semester was spent on mice, and cats and dogs, and not once did they mention human beings. I was disappointed and dismayed! If this was psychology, I wanted none of it! As Seligman stated, “I could not begin to articulate” my misgivings, confusion, and disillusion, or why I felt that way at that early time in my life. I only knew it sounded like it had missed the point of helping to understand human consciousness and behavior. It didn’t look like these people had the answer.
After reading this article, I suddenly understood what had happened to me 60 years ago! I had attended when Penn’s psychology department was asleep.
Thank you for assisting me in understanding this part of my past. I am encouraged to know that there is a new perspective 60 years later.
Nancy Gingrich Kavanaugh CW’53, Grass Valley, CA
Defending Ernie I
One doesn’t have to be a graduate of the Wharton School (although I am, of the same Class of 1953 as Ernie Beck) to calculate his splendid record of having the most career points for Penn basketball for 67 years—the longest-standing scoring record of any NCAA Division I program in the nation. His record should remain intact.
I refer to your excellent article “Substance over Style” [Gazetteer,” May|Jun 2020], which doesn’t diminish AJ Brodeur’s accomplishment at all. Despite his total of 1,832 points scored in his four years foreshortened by the pandemic as a Penn basketball player, his feat should be followed by an asterisk. Ernie’s record of 1,827 points was scored in his Penn college career of three years of varsity eligibility.
Career points over four seasons compared to three seasons does not equate to a new champion. How about average points produced per season? Beck at 609 points; Brodeur at 458 points. If we knew the number of games each played, we could calculate the average points per game scored; and that would ensure Ernie Beck’s career accomplishments as even more amazing. It would underscore—no pun intended— why his longest scoring leadership record remains unbroken.
Should the record be for total points amassed during a collegiate career irrespective of time involvement? Apples versus oranges?
No, it would be sensible to rate intensity as providing a true measure of record-setting in basketball within NCAA Division I. AJ Brodeur’s accomplishment should earn him accolades, but no new record. Perhaps an asterisk could explain the difference in time employed in careers.
One thing I do know: Penn experienced very fine basketball seasons both when Ernie and AJ Brodeur wore the Red and the Blue.
David S. Liner W’53, Evanston, IL
Defending Ernie II
Your article featuring AJ Brodeur was well done and right on. However, you gave short shrift to Ernie Beck. Ernie was the first team All-American, led the nation in scoring, and lead Penn to the NCAA Tournament.
I cannot check my 1953 yearbook, as I donated it to the University years ago.
Dick Torpey C’53, Huntingdon Valley, PA
When I receive a publication like the Gazette I turn first to the “Letters to the Editor” section. I must say that I am discouraged by reading such missives. The tone is often strident, vituperative, and uncompromising. Writers who promulgate opinions differing from those of your letter-writers are branded as miscreants, idiots, or subversives, and your staff is charged with naivete, political bias, pandering—and wasting paper.
I find most of the articles in the Gazette worth reading, even if I come to disagree with their findings or conclusions. Were I to decide to discontinue receiving your journal it would most likely be because of the “Letters to the Editor” section, not the articles.
Maybe a policy statement on the part of your editorial staff is in order. To wit: Diverse responses to our articles are always welcome. But letters that go beyond civility will not be printed. We have enough demonization of opposing views in our country today—enough polarization—without the Gazette, among such publications, helping to stoke the fires of such divisiveness.
Barry Ivker C’62, Birmingham, AL
In the Sep|Oct 2020 “From the Editor” column, there is a statement referring to “George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.” There is sufficient evidence available in the public domain—including body camera images and transcripts from the police, as well as toxicology reports—to know that George Floyd died of a drug overdose from having ingested over three times the lethal dosage of fentanyl, not from any action by the police. I suggest that you read George Parry’s articles in the American Spectator. A shorter synopsis is at Don Brown’s American Thinker article.
Universities should teach their students how to find the truth, not indoctrinate them in ideologies or false narratives.
John J. “Jack” Nisley ChE’74, Duluth, GA
The death has been ruled a homicide, as is easily confirmable from a myriad of sources available to students and the rest of us. (Politifact, for example, rated the drug overdose claim as False in a September 25 post.) The police officers involved have been criminally charged. Their guilt or innocence with regard to the specific charges will be determined through the legal system, but to say that Mr. Floyd’s death came “at the hands of police” is a factual description.—Ed.
William Acar is apparently defending government gigantism vis-à-vis that of corporations based on his assumption that “both gigantisms are mainly due to the same set of causes, namely the quest for efficiencies through the Information Revolution” [“Letters,” Sep|Oct 2020]. Seems like wishful thinking to me. Like many others, I see most government gigantism driven by the quest for power, with efficiencies, if a factor at all, well down the list of priorities.
William R. Greene WG’68, Janesville, WI